7:42 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 6 minutes and I rise in opposition to the amendment. I realize the amendment is going to be withdrawn.

I appreciate the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. COBURN) raising this for purposes of discussing why we are doing this; that is appropriate. I am pleased to rise and explain why we are doing this. I think it will be less animated than I otherwise would have been because the gentleman is going to withdraw the amendment.

Let me say that, first of all, I appreciate the remarks of the gentleman with respect to looking long term and looking to the future, ensuring that we manage the finances of America responsibly.

I have been here for longer than the gentleman, serving here since 1981. I think we were incredibly fiscally irresponsible as a Nation. Everybody went into debt very deeply in America in the 1980s. When I say everybody, consumers went deeply into debt. Business went deeply into debt, and government went deeply into debt.

First of all, in 1990, we adopted a budget which started us on the road of fiscal responsibility. It was very controversial. Then President Bush signed the legislation and was severely criticized for doing so, but most economists say that that was the first step in reaching where we are today. The second step, was 1993 when we thought about the future. Some called it a piece of legislation that was going to drive us deeply into recession, explode unemployment and explode the debt. Mr. Gingrich

said that, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. KASICH) said that, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. ARMEY) said [Page: H6693]

that, that numerous other leaders in this House said that. In point of fact, exactly the opposite happened.

We have the best economy that any of us have seen in our adult lifetimes. In 1997, in furtherance of the effort to ensure that we were going to have a balanced budget and would not be deficit financing, we said to Federal employees you are going to pay an additional half point on your retirement.

[Time: 19:45]

It is only for the purposes of solving our deficit problem; and, therefore, because the budget projections now show a deficit balance as of 2002, we will sunset it in 2002 and go back to what they were paying in 1997. We then thought that 2002 would be the time when we would balance the budget. Well, lo and behold not only because of the 1990 bill, the 1993 bill and the 1997 act, which was a bipartisan act, the economy, mostly because of a high-tech explosion that has occurred and the global

success that we have had, we balanced the budget earlier than we thought; in 1999.

As a result, we are now saying to those Federal employees, because we asked for the extra half percent and took it out of their paycheck to contribute to solving the deficit problem, we have now solved that deficit, operating deficit, on an annual basis and as a result what we are now saying is we are going to give it back. We are now going to return them to where they were, as we said we would in 1997.

So I say to my friend, the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. COBURN), we are doing exactly what we said we would do. We said when the budget was projected to be in balance we will roll back this temporary increase. All we are saying today is we have had good fortune and because we have met the premise of that act, we will now do what we said we would do, and do it early. That is all we are doing.

Now, I tell my friend, I represent a lot of Federal employees, as the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. COBURN) knows. If the policies that were in place in 1981 had not been changed, Federal employees in those 19 years would have received over a quarter of a trillion dollars more in pay and in benefits. A quarter of a trillion dollars Federal employees have contributed to getting this deficit down, by reduced pay and reduced benefits; a quarter of a trillion dollars.

Now, I say further to my friend, who mentions those 800 corporations, no Federal employee gets a stock option. No Federal employee can cash in his stocks at the end of the day or at the end of his career. They do not get a windfall. He does not get a golden parachute. The fact of the matter is, the Federal employees, as my friend knows, under FEPCA, the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act, consistently is concluded by every analyst, and now it may differ as to the amount but by every analyst,

to be paid less than his private-sector counterpart. Therefore, this is the fair thing to do. It is the right thing to do, and I am pleased that we are doing it.

Again, I thank the gentleman for raising it, and I thank the gentleman for agreeing to withdraw it at the appropriate time. I think it was appropriate to have it aired, and I am pleased to do so.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

7:42 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 6 minutes and I rise in opposition to the amendment. I realize the amendment is going to be withdrawn.

I appreciate the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. COBURN) raising this for purposes of discussing why we are doing this; that is appropriate. I am pleased to rise and explain why we are doing this. I think it will be less animated than I otherwise would have been because the gentleman is going to withdraw the amendment.

Let me say that, first of all, I appreciate the remarks of the gentleman with respect to looking long term and looking to the future, ensuring that we manage the finances of America responsibly.

I have been here for longer than the gentleman, serving here since 1981. I think we were incredibly fiscally irresponsible as a Nation. Everybody went into debt very deeply in America in the 1980s. When I say everybody, consumers went deeply into debt. Business went deeply into debt, and government went deeply into debt.

First of all, in 1990, we adopted a budget which started us on the road of fiscal responsibility. It was very controversial. Then President Bush signed the legislation and was severely criticized for doing so, but most economists say that that was the first step in reaching where we are today. The second step, was 1993 when we thought about the future. Some called it a piece of legislation that was going to drive us deeply into recession, explode unemployment and explode the debt. Mr. Gingrich

said that, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. KASICH) said that, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. ARMEY) said [Page: H6693]

that, that numerous other leaders in this House said that. In point of fact, exactly the opposite happened.

We have the best economy that any of us have seen in our adult lifetimes. In 1997, in furtherance of the effort to ensure that we were going to have a balanced budget and would not be deficit financing, we said to Federal employees you are going to pay an additional half point on your retirement.

[Time: 19:45]

It is only for the purposes of solving our deficit problem; and, therefore, because the budget projections now show a deficit balance as of 2002, we will sunset it in 2002 and go back to what they were paying in 1997. We then thought that 2002 would be the time when we would balance the budget. Well, lo and behold not only because of the 1990 bill, the 1993 bill and the 1997 act, which was a bipartisan act, the economy, mostly because of a high-tech explosion that has occurred and the global

success that we have had, we balanced the budget earlier than we thought; in 1999.

As a result, we are now saying to those Federal employees, because we asked for the extra half percent and took it out of their paycheck to contribute to solving the deficit problem, we have now solved that deficit, operating deficit, on an annual basis and as a result what we are now saying is we are going to give it back. We are now going to return them to where they were, as we said we would in 1997.

So I say to my friend, the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. COBURN), we are doing exactly what we said we would do. We said when the budget was projected to be in balance we will roll back this temporary increase. All we are saying today is we have had good fortune and because we have met the premise of that act, we will now do what we said we would do, and do it early. That is all we are doing.

Now, I tell my friend, I represent a lot of Federal employees, as the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. COBURN) knows. If the policies that were in place in 1981 had not been changed, Federal employees in those 19 years would have received over a quarter of a trillion dollars more in pay and in benefits. A quarter of a trillion dollars Federal employees have contributed to getting this deficit down, by reduced pay and reduced benefits; a quarter of a trillion dollars.

Now, I say further to my friend, who mentions those 800 corporations, no Federal employee gets a stock option. No Federal employee can cash in his stocks at the end of the day or at the end of his career. They do not get a windfall. He does not get a golden parachute. The fact of the matter is, the Federal employees, as my friend knows, under FEPCA, the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act, consistently is concluded by every analyst, and now it may differ as to the amount but by every analyst,

to be paid less than his private-sector counterpart. Therefore, this is the fair thing to do. It is the right thing to do, and I am pleased that we are doing it.

Again, I thank the gentleman for raising it, and I thank the gentleman for agreeing to withdraw it at the appropriate time. I think it was appropriate to have it aired, and I am pleased to do so.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

7:42 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 6 minutes and I rise in opposition to the amendment. I realize the amendment is going to be withdrawn.

I appreciate the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. COBURN) raising this for purposes of discussing why we are doing this; that is appropriate. I am pleased to rise and explain why we are doing this. I think it will be less animated than I otherwise would have been because the gentleman is going to withdraw the amendment.

Let me say that, first of all, I appreciate the remarks of the gentleman with respect to looking long term and looking to the future, ensuring that we manage the finances of America responsibly.

I have been here for longer than the gentleman, serving here since 1981. I think we were incredibly fiscally irresponsible as a Nation. Everybody went into debt very deeply in America in the 1980s. When I say everybody, consumers went deeply into debt. Business went deeply into debt, and government went deeply into debt.

First of all, in 1990, we adopted a budget which started us on the road of fiscal responsibility. It was very controversial. Then President Bush signed the legislation and was severely criticized for doing so, but most economists say that that was the first step in reaching where we are today. The second step, was 1993 when we thought about the future. Some called it a piece of legislation that was going to drive us deeply into recession, explode unemployment and explode the debt. Mr. Gingrich

said that, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. KASICH) said that, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. ARMEY) said [Page: H6693]

that, that numerous other leaders in this House said that. In point of fact, exactly the opposite happened.

We have the best economy that any of us have seen in our adult lifetimes. In 1997, in furtherance of the effort to ensure that we were going to have a balanced budget and would not be deficit financing, we said to Federal employees you are going to pay an additional half point on your retirement.

[Time: 19:45]

It is only for the purposes of solving our deficit problem; and, therefore, because the budget projections now show a deficit balance as of 2002, we will sunset it in 2002 and go back to what they were paying in 1997. We then thought that 2002 would be the time when we would balance the budget. Well, lo and behold not only because of the 1990 bill, the 1993 bill and the 1997 act, which was a bipartisan act, the economy, mostly because of a high-tech explosion that has occurred and the global

success that we have had, we balanced the budget earlier than we thought; in 1999.

As a result, we are now saying to those Federal employees, because we asked for the extra half percent and took it out of their paycheck to contribute to solving the deficit problem, we have now solved that deficit, operating deficit, on an annual basis and as a result what we are now saying is we are going to give it back. We are now going to return them to where they were, as we said we would in 1997.

So I say to my friend, the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. COBURN), we are doing exactly what we said we would do. We said when the budget was projected to be in balance we will roll back this temporary increase. All we are saying today is we have had good fortune and because we have met the premise of that act, we will now do what we said we would do, and do it early. That is all we are doing.

Now, I tell my friend, I represent a lot of Federal employees, as the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. COBURN) knows. If the policies that were in place in 1981 had not been changed, Federal employees in those 19 years would have received over a quarter of a trillion dollars more in pay and in benefits. A quarter of a trillion dollars Federal employees have contributed to getting this deficit down, by reduced pay and reduced benefits; a quarter of a trillion dollars.

Now, I say further to my friend, who mentions those 800 corporations, no Federal employee gets a stock option. No Federal employee can cash in his stocks at the end of the day or at the end of his career. They do not get a windfall. He does not get a golden parachute. The fact of the matter is, the Federal employees, as my friend knows, under FEPCA, the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act, consistently is concluded by every analyst, and now it may differ as to the amount but by every analyst,

to be paid less than his private-sector counterpart. Therefore, this is the fair thing to do. It is the right thing to do, and I am pleased that we are doing it.

Again, I thank the gentleman for raising it, and I thank the gentleman for agreeing to withdraw it at the appropriate time. I think it was appropriate to have it aired, and I am pleased to do so.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

7:48 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK 2nd

Mr. COBURN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the remainder of my time.

Mr. Chairman, I would make some points. First of all, the American people should look at the national debt clock. We are doing so well that the debt is going to rise this year. So if we want to measure whether or not we are balanced and whether we are in surplus, just look at how much debt we are going to leave for our children because it is going to be higher at the end of this year than it was at the end of last year. That is number one.

Number two, in 1960, the Federal employee contributions provided 84.8 percent of the benefit outlets. In 1995, that went down to 12.5 percent, and in the next 10 years it is to be below 10 percent, so that the fact is for the benefits as they rise, the Federal employees' share are at a decreasing and decreasing amount.

What does that mean? That means that our grandchildren's level and share is at an increasing amount. The point is that we still have a marked differential.

Let the record show, there is a thrift savings plan that most employers do not offer to their employees that Federal employees have. The comparisons that he made in terms of employees are based on professional employees, not bureaucrats, not midlevel employees. It is based on professional. So although I think the gentleman is right in his position to defend those that are his constituents, I still stand with my position that we are not prudent for our grandchildren; we are not prudent for the

investment of the future; we are not prudent for their standard of living because what we are going to do is leave them a legacy of debt.

Although we talk about retiring debt, we are talking about retiring publicly held debt. We are not retiring total debt. We still have the obligations, and the only thing it changes is our cash flow, not our actual amount of money costed in interest. So I understand the rhetoric in Washington about the debt and about the balanced budget, and I respect that that is the way it has been talked about; but in terms of an accounting standpoint, it is baloney. We are not in a budget surplus yet, even

though we are calling it a surplus because we have a consolidated accounting that does not recognize our obligations.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

7:48 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK 2nd

Mr. COBURN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the remainder of my time.

Mr. Chairman, I would make some points. First of all, the American people should look at the national debt clock. We are doing so well that the debt is going to rise this year. So if we want to measure whether or not we are balanced and whether we are in surplus, just look at how much debt we are going to leave for our children because it is going to be higher at the end of this year than it was at the end of last year. That is number one.

Number two, in 1960, the Federal employee contributions provided 84.8 percent of the benefit outlets. In 1995, that went down to 12.5 percent, and in the next 10 years it is to be below 10 percent, so that the fact is for the benefits as they rise, the Federal employees' share are at a decreasing and decreasing amount.

What does that mean? That means that our grandchildren's level and share is at an increasing amount. The point is that we still have a marked differential.

Let the record show, there is a thrift savings plan that most employers do not offer to their employees that Federal employees have. The comparisons that he made in terms of employees are based on professional employees, not bureaucrats, not midlevel employees. It is based on professional. So although I think the gentleman is right in his position to defend those that are his constituents, I still stand with my position that we are not prudent for our grandchildren; we are not prudent for the

investment of the future; we are not prudent for their standard of living because what we are going to do is leave them a legacy of debt.

Although we talk about retiring debt, we are talking about retiring publicly held debt. We are not retiring total debt. We still have the obligations, and the only thing it changes is our cash flow, not our actual amount of money costed in interest. So I understand the rhetoric in Washington about the debt and about the balanced budget, and I respect that that is the way it has been talked about; but in terms of an accounting standpoint, it is baloney. We are not in a budget surplus yet, even

though we are calling it a surplus because we have a consolidated accounting that does not recognize our obligations.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

7:51 PM EDT

Tom Davis, R-VA 11th

Mr. DAVIS of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, let me first of all thank my friend, the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. COBURN), who I disagree with on this issue but I think has shown an amazing amount of integrity as he deals with the budget deficit, really taking no prisoners or favorites as he goes out, trying to make sure that that budget becomes in balance. It has been a crusade with him since he joined the House; and as he leaves the House, I think he has left his mark on that. I respect and

admire what he is trying to do.

On this particular amendment let me just tell the gentleman why I disagree with him. I represent 54,000 Federal employees, some of the hardest-working people we will find in America, but this money was taken from them to help balance the Federal budget. Their retirement system was actuarially sound. It was not in any jeopardy. They did not need to make a greater contribution to make it actuarially sound. The Civil Service Retirement System, the old system that is being paid out had problems,

but these were people who came in under a contract; and we were trying to keep the contract with them, and yet they gave up a half of 1 percent of their salary to help balance the Federal budget.

They, in addition to that, gave up about $180 billion by last calculation of other benefits they were in line to receive to help reduce the deficit over the last decade and a half.

So it is not our money. It is their money. All we are doing in this particular case is restoring to them the benefits and the money that they had rightly owned and were willing to give up to help us balance the budget. Well, we have done that. We have done it 3 years early. Under the original act, this was going to be returned to them in 2003 when we thought the budget would meet the criteria that it is now meeting.

So I think it is fitting that we go ahead with this now. It is for that reason that I take exception to this amendment, but I appreciate what he is trying to accomplish and again his tenacity in pursuing a goal that I think we are all trying to get to.

7:51 PM EDT

Tom Davis, R-VA 11th

Mr. DAVIS of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, let me first of all thank my friend, the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. COBURN), who I disagree with on this issue but I think has shown an amazing amount of integrity as he deals with the budget deficit, really taking no prisoners or favorites as he goes out, trying to make sure that that budget becomes in balance. It has been a crusade with him since he joined the House; and as he leaves the House, I think he has left his mark on that. I respect and

admire what he is trying to do.

On this particular amendment let me just tell the gentleman why I disagree with him. I represent 54,000 Federal employees, some of the hardest-working people we will find in America, but this money was taken from them to help balance the Federal budget. Their retirement system was actuarially sound. It was not in any jeopardy. They did not need to make a greater contribution to make it actuarially sound. The Civil Service Retirement System, the old system that is being paid out had problems,

but these were people who came in under a contract; and we were trying to keep the contract with them, and yet they gave up a half of 1 percent of their salary to help balance the Federal budget.

They, in addition to that, gave up about $180 billion by last calculation of other benefits they were in line to receive to help reduce the deficit over the last decade and a half.

So it is not our money. It is their money. All we are doing in this particular case is restoring to them the benefits and the money that they had rightly owned and were willing to give up to help us balance the budget. Well, we have done that. We have done it 3 years early. Under the original act, this was going to be returned to them in 2003 when we thought the budget would meet the criteria that it is now meeting.

So I think it is fitting that we go ahead with this now. It is for that reason that I take exception to this amendment, but I appreciate what he is trying to accomplish and again his tenacity in pursuing a goal that I think we are all trying to get to.

7:53 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK 2nd

Mr. COBURN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.

Mr. Chairman, I would state that anything that is backed by the Federal Government is actuarially sound even through we know Medicare is not, we know Social Security is not, and we know that the Federal Employee Retirement System is not as well.

Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to withdraw the amendment.